Lifescape Courses Brings the World to Your Workout

June 28, 2015 Updated: June 28, 2015

What would it take to go hiking in the breathtaking landscape of Arizona and then on to the jaw-dropping beauty of Utah terrain – in half an hour? Or to easily slip away to Germany for an invigorating run – and be back in time for dinner?

It’s questions like this that the production team behind the scenes of the Life Fitness Lifescape Courses consider when they are planning the next awe-inspiring scenery to accompany runners, hikers or bikers on any Integrity Series with Lifescape Attachable TV or on a new Elevation Series with Discover Tablet Console product.

The courses deliver a unique virtual experience in that the team often takes the exerciser places they can’t go in real life, according to Ruben Grijalva, director at Virtual Active. As an example, a runner or biker clearly can’t make it to both the spectacular backdrops of Utah and Arizona in 30 minutes, as they are able to do virtually in the “Grand Staircase Hike” course.

Where to go next? The crew has filmed on four of seven continents and tends to choose which hemisphere to visit based on the season to maximize hours of shootable light. For Lifescapes Courses, the team has visited several wildly popular locations around the U.S., as well as New Zealand and France. Like many travelers, they choose the destinations starting with the simple question, “Where do I want to go?” and then thoroughly research exciting options and how to turn them into a high-speed tour. Those options take them to novel locations such as Loire River Valley in France, where the crew ran through the gardens and cities around a series of famous chateaus.

Shooting and production. The crew uses a special device called a Steadicam to film, which is a vest worn by the camera operator that supports a spring-loaded arm to allow for relatively smooth camera movement, even when running. The whole setup weighs about 35 pounds, which means the crew has to be pretty fit to wear the Steadicam through 12-hour shoots. Check how the scenes are actually filmed in this video.

Course modules are five minutes each, but shooting them can range from 30 minutes to five hours. Each Lifescape course includes six modules (or enough footage for a 30-minute workout). Each trip includes a run, hike and bike module that can usually be shot in two to four days. Post production takes even longer, as each shot goes through custom image stabilization process, editing, sound, color correction, review, etc. 

The scenery distracts you from the pain of cardio exercise (LUNAMARINA/iStock)


Working out as if you were outside. Lifescape Courses engages exercisers beyond just watching television during a workout.

The scenery distracts you from the pain of cardio exercise, but it also encourages you to work harder, to try and get to the top of that mountain faster, Grijalva says. Rather than waiting for a clock to count down, you’re pushing forward to reach the end of a journey.

Ready to see what may be next for Lifescape Courses? Keep up with the crew’s travels on Facebook.

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